LSU on Monday morning donned full pads for the first time in August as the Tigers wrapped up a stretch of five straight practice days to start August camp.
It was the second day of the team being together as a group, meaning you are getting a feel for how newcomers might be used this year.
What's particularly interested is watching the linebackers, where true freshmen Ronnie Feist, Lamar Louis and Deion Jones, all true freshmen, have often worked together as a second-team unit behind first-teamers Kevin Minter, Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow. That doesn't necessarily mean a veteran like Luke Muncie, who was competing with Barrow for the starting spot on the weak side, has completely fallen out of favor, but it is interesting to see the young players get early looks.
Another true freshman linebacker, Lorenzo Phillips, got the big win of the day in the Big Cat Drill, dominating running back Terrence Magee in his turn. It was redemption for Phillips, who was blown out in his rep on Sunday by fullback J.C. Copeland. It was the second straight day of the mano-a-mano drill designed to foster a culture of toughness.
The physicality increased with the addition of the full pads. In the secondary's form tackle drills, the players who took turns as the "tackled" player seemed to absorb considerably harder blows than they did in shorts and shoulder pads the day before. Defensive linemen were reckless in their manhandling of tackling dummies.
Already, the increased physicality is taking at least a small toll. For the third straight day, wide receiver Paul Turner was absent and defensive tackle Bennie Logan did not participate. Defensive end Barkevious Mingo remained in the green non-contact jersey that he's worn throughout August camp because of a weight-lifting injury to his left arm.
The increased physicality led to something the Tigers are probably ready for now -- a break. Tuesday will be media day, meaning no practice for the first time since Tuesday. After the one-day break, LSU will hit its most grueling stretch of camp: two practices on Wednesday, one Thursday and two Friday before a Saturday scrimmage.
After taking Sunday off, the Tigers will practice twice Monday, then once a day for the rest of camp.